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Three hidden relationships marketing leaders need to drive business value

As a marketing leader, do you have these key relationships?

When a marketing leader is asked to do something outrageous—like show how they deliver business value to their organizations—hearts race, stomachs flutter, and questions fly. What do you mean by business value—we generate leads, conversions, and sales? How can we show business value when our data and analytics are siloed? How do you translate brand equity in business terms?

Marketing is complex, especially in a world where data dominates. Therefore, it’s up to marketers to properly relay their roles and marketing’s importance to their C-suite colleagues. Because of the complicated and sometimes unclear relationship between marketing initiatives and revenue, navigating this labyrinth can be quite challenging.

The most respected and pioneering marketing leaders often have one thing in common: They keep their communications close to their company’s revenue line. As part of this, marketing pioneers are fundamentally transforming their marketing operating models. They recognize that a crucial means to unlocking growth and business value is by breaking barriers: whether that’s silos within their organizations, or dissonance between their marketing organizations and the rest of the company.

Compared to their peers, marketing pioneers actively tend to their connections to other C-suite connections. They are expanding their spheres of influence beyond the traditional marketing-sales interlock to collaborate with some hidden business-growth accelerators, including finance, the CIO function, and HR to develop and implement the systems, processes, and skills necessary to drive growth.

Make the CFO your new work BFF

With marketing becoming even more measurable and accountable, the relationship with the CFO has become all the more critical—and even more beneficial. Ask your CFO to assign a member of the finance team to become “embedded” in marketing. Effective finance teams have the “decoder” ring to your complex internal systems, and can help you optimize your marketing mix, identify opportunities for growth, and most importantly, quantify your results in business terms.

Your CFO can become your biggest advocate for spending more in marketing—that’s right spending MORE. Litmus recently conducted some primary market research related to business value. When we built the business case, the first colleague I approached was our CFO. Within five minutes, he understood what I was trying to achieve and how it could help our business grow. From that point, he was on the frontlines with our colleagues as a primary champion for the initiative.

Get your geek on with the CIO

When I started my marketing career nearly 30 years ago, if someone had told me that I would be in charge of a technology stack and complex web of systems, data, and analytics, I wouldn’t have believed them. Today, I spend hours each week working with our teams to ensure our different marketing technologies work together, share data that can be used by all channels, drive conversions, sales and growth, and empower with insights to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Consider adding a marketing technology and analytics team to the CIO organization with a dotted line to your marketing organization. A recent CMO study from Gartner found that only 58% of respondents were using their marketing technology stack to its full potential. Your CIO can help you bridge this gap, unlock new growth opportunities, and advocate on your behalf for future investments.

Empower the CHRO to future-proof your team

A study from The Economist found an unexpected disconnect between marketing leaders and their teams. The study uncovered an interesting insight that CMOs are much more likely to be confident in their teams’ marketing skillset (88%) than non-CMO marketers (64%). In the age of agility, the blistering pace of change and exponential pressure to drive business growth today can hinder your ability to develop your talent and future-proof your team.

This quote from Andy Dorling, General Manager at The Institute of Data & Marketing in the UK highlights the challenge: “The future of intelligent marketing will not just be dependent on organizations investing in the latest technologies advances. It will require skilled marketing teams to innovate, interpret data, engage with customers, and communicate the latest trends to senior management in order to develop effective marketing strategies.” As part of this, future marketing leaders will need the core business skills to make an impact at the highest levels and align marketing with their companies’ priorities.

Make your human resources business partner part of your marketing leadership team. They can help you implement development training to cope with the challenges you face now, and reshape your recruiting approach to attract modern talent with the experience and knowledge to deliver business growth and value. While implementing this kind of approach requires a somewhat longer-term view, it will help you build a team that is hard-wired for continuous improvement.

Focus on your peers

Like most things in our lives, it starts with people. As modern marketers, we have a propensity to dig into our data and use stats as a defense shield to protect us from the litany of questions we face every day. We publish reports with multi-touch attribution, intent data, conversions, pipeline growth charts, and revenue reports going up and to the right. Pioneering marketers know that to make these powerful stats meaningful to their executive leadership teams and Boards of Directors, they need to create internal marketing advocates who lock arms with them on achieving shared business priorities.